Sorry to break it to ya: Life does not get easier after having a baby. Statistics also show that more often than not, marriages and relationships also suffer after having a baby. We all aim to raise healthy happy children, and have a great relationship with our partner or spouse right? Here are the top four factors that causes relationship breakdown after baby, how to overcome those challenges and how to keep relationship strong after having baby.
I was recently reading the book Brain Rules For Baby, written by John Medina. In his book, he shows that unhappy marriages after baby are common, and he talks about four consistent things that cause the most conflict in marriages after having a baby, and if these four things are not controlled, they can wreck havoc in your marriage and actually affect your baby’s brain development. This is because when parents fight, even very young babies can sense something is wrong, and the stress hormone cortisol floods their system which have the ability to alter their development physically, mentally and emotionally.
Divorce After Baby Statistics
According to the Relationship Research Institute in Seattle, within three years of the birth of a child, approximately two-thirds of couples find that the quality of their relationship declines and within five years of the birth of a first child, 13 percent of marriages end in divorce for couples who were married at the time of the child’s birth.
Top Four Causes Of Relationship Breakdown After Baby
According to John Medina, the top four causes of relationship breakdown after baby are:
- Sleep Loss
- Social Isolation
- Unequal Workload
So have seen so many women post things like “Help! My husband changed after having baby!”, well, the truth is that the mother has probably changed too. These four things listed above might have something to do with that.
Studies show that if couples know of these stressors before hand, they plan more, they know what to look out for, and they fight less as a result.
My sleep loss started even before my son was born. I had trouble sleeping in the third trimester because I couldn’t sleep comfortably, and I was constantly up running to the bathroom because the baby was kicking my bladder! I then had a 52 hour labor. 3 days later, we had to take baby back to the hospital because he was borderline jaundice. So all in all…my husband and I were so tired and sleep deprived… It was tough. The first three months of our son being born were the most challenging. We didn’t fight during that time, but the experience did create a lot of stress and worry for both of us. I can definitely see how sleep loss cause friction in a relationship, especially if the man isn’t getting up in the middle of the night to help with feedings or diaper changes.
What to do about it:
There is no way to avoid having to get up in the middle of the night in the beginning when baby is born. I remember becoming used to walking around the house at 3am, and all other sorts of odd hours. When sleep deprived, our ability to control strong feelings disappear, we are less able to solve problems, our fuses become short.
- Try get more sleep. Nap whenever baby naps.
- Ask a friend or relative to look after baby while you take a nap.
- For a good night’s sleep, pump breastmilk, and ask your husband or someone who is available to help feed baby during the night.
- Get a night light. You’ll find that you and baby can get back to sleep easier if you don’t turn on the bright lights during nighttime feedings.
Social isolation can lead to depression in parents. Loneliness is experienced by as many as 80% of new parents. After the birth of the baby, couples only have one third as much time together as they had when they were childless. Friends often stop coming over, and often parents don’t have the energy or time to make new ones. An estimated 34% of parents spend their whole day in isolation. All of this leads to many parents feeling trapped.
What to do about it:
- Consider joining social groups like Le Leche League, Holistic moms network, or other social networks that get together once in a while.
- Get together with your friends at least once a month.
- Call your friend and talk.
- Invite friends over to your house if it’s too hard to go out with baby.
- Organize playdates or playgroups with other mommies and daddies.
Even with 21st century changes in attitudes, women are still doing more work around the house than men. Statistics show that women with families do 70% of all household tasks (30 years ago, it was 85%), regardless of whether she is a stay at home mom, or a working mom. It doesn’t help if the man in the relationship recognize how hard it is to stay at home and look after the children and how much work is involved. A typical stay at home mom works 94.4 hours a week. If she were paid for her efforts, she would earn about $117,000 a year. Most guys do not spend 94.4 hours a week at their jobs and 99% of them earn less than $117,000 a year. So to any men that may be reading this, please don’t pull the “I’m the bread winner card.” on your wives.
What to do about it:
- Even before having kids, talk with your partner and decide together that both of you together make a team, and whatever you both do to contribute to the family, is of equal value.
- If you are struggling to keep up with the workload around the house, communicate that to your partner and let them know that you need extra help, either from them, or from hired help.
- Consider hiring help- getting someone to come clean the house once a week or once every two weeks may take a huge load off your shoulders.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get family or friends to help with laundry, or bring food for example. You will be surprised to find that people are often happy to help.
- Cooking is an activity that takes a lot of time every day. Think of ways that can cut down your prepping and cooking time. What could you do to save time in the kitchen? One way could be to cook in large batches to freeze and eat later. Meal prepping is another way that could save you time.
- Getting your older kids to help with laundry or other chores around the house.
Did you know that about half of all new mothers experience a transient postpartum sadness that vanishes within a few days? But of those, 10-20% of mothers experience something deeper and darker – clinical postpartum depression. In his book, John Medina tells us that these women feel emotions of despair, sorrow, worthlessness, even if their marriages are doing well. They may stop eating to eat too much. When moms are depressed it increases the risk for infanticide or suicide. Sadly, mom’s depression affects the bond between mother and child in the first few months of the baby’s life, and the baby may even start to mirror the depressed mother, this is called “reciprocal withdrawal”. These children become more insecure, socially inhibited, timid and fearful.
What to do about it:
- Know and be on the lookout for symptoms of postpartum depression (click here to read).
- If you are feeling depressed after giving birth, do not be afraid to talk about your feelings to a confidante and let them know what’s going on.
- If you know someone who may be experiencing postpartum depression, they may need professional help from a healthcare professional.
- Know that there are many women who suffers from or has suffered in the past from postpartum depression. There are many support groups, so if you want to join a support group, look for one in your area.
So there you have it- four top causes of relationship breakdown after baby, and arguing after having a baby. Again, if couples know what to look out for, and they fight less as a result.
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